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Aroostook youths participate in March for Life in DC

HOULTON, Maine — For the second year in a row, students from 55 Maine parishes, including from Aroostook County, attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19.

Clare Desrosiers, parish catechetical leader of St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church in Houlton, said that the trip for two Houlton students who attended was funded by the Houlton parish for the second year.

The March for Life is an annual rally in its 45th year that peacefully protests the practice and legality of abortion, according to organizers. It is held in Washington, D.C., on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case which decriminalized abortion in 1973.

The march, which is the biggest pro-life event in the country, was first started in 1974 by Nellie Gray, an activist and Catholic who died in 2012 at the age of 88.

This year, youth left Houlton early Thursday, Jan. 18, for a 13-hour trip to Washington, D.C. They met the Catholic Diocese of Portland’s Youth Ministry Bus along the way. The Maine youth attended Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with over 20,000 Catholic pilgrims. Participants gathered Friday on the National Mall at 12th Street for an hour long rally before marching up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court and Capitol.

Trump made history by addressing the crowd via video feed from the White House. It was the first time a sitting president has participated in the rally in the 45 years it has been held. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence attended the March for Life in person.

Amile Desrosiers, a sophomore at Hodgdon High School, was among those who attended the event.

“By attending the March for Life, I exercised my freedom of speech to protest the injustice of abortion,” he said, “namely, the negligence of the U.S. government’s duty to protect the God-given, fundamental rights of every man to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.”

Desrosiers added that the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., “inspired me to more fully participate in the democratic process.”

“It also strengthened my conviction that so many others care enough to undertake this same expression.,” he said.

Some marchers were met by counter protesters along the route. The next day, thousands of women gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, while other groups gathered across the world, for the first anniversary of the Women’s March that followed the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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